The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has been voted as the ‘Best Central Bank in promoting Islamic finance’ for the fourth time by a poll conducted by Islamic Finance News (IFN), REDmoney Group Malaysia.
This is the second international award bestowed upon SBP for Islamic banking during FY2021. Earlier, the Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) had also declared SBP as the ‘Best Central Bank’ of the year in September 2020.
IFN, while announcing the poll results, stated, “It is always a closely contested battle for the top spot, but 2020 was rather more of a runaway victory than we have seen in recent years. The 2018 winner, the State Bank of Pakistan, achieved a decisive win with almost three quarters of the votes.”
IFN further stated that this year, despite global pandemic, they [SBP] have received the highest number of votes for the poll in its 16 years history.
Islamic banking sector in Pakistan continued strong growth momentum during 2020 and its share in the overall banking industry’s assets and deposits stood at 16pc and 17.3pc, respectively, with a network of 3,303 branches in 122 districts across the country as of September 2020.
Increasing financial inclusion by providing an enabling environment and promoting Islamic banking in the country is an important component of SBP’s strategy. Further, Islamic banking has been made an integral part of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) of the government to serve those who prefer Islamic products or who are voluntarily excluded or underserved due to their religious belief. Under the enhanced NFIS 2023, market share of the Islamic banking in the overall banking industry has been targeted at 25pc.
Achieving four IFN awards of the best central bank since 2015, in addition to other international accolades, is the reflection of global recognition of the strategic measures that SBP is undertaking to foster sustainable growth of Islamic banking in Pakistan.